Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm,
&c.] These are still the words of the church, speaking to Christ as she walked along with him, as the affixes in the Hebrew text show; in which she desires to have a fixed abiding place in his heart; to continue firmly in his love, and to have further manifestations of it; to be always remembered and supported by him; to be ever on his mind, and constantly under his care and protection; and to have a full assurance of interest in his love, and in his power, which is the sealing work of his Spirit, ( Ephesians 1:13 ) ( 4:30 ) . The allusion seems to be to the high: priest, a type of Christ, who had the names of the children of Israel engraved on precious stones, and bore by him on his shoulders, and on his heart, for a memorial before the Lord continually; or to the names of persons, engraved on jewels, wore by lovers on their arms or breasts, or to their pictures put there; not to signets or seals wore on those parts, but to the names and images of persons impressed on them: the Ethiopians F16 understand it of something bound upon the arm, by which persons might be known, as was used in their country. The church's desire is, that she might be affectionately loved by Christ, be deeply fixed in his heart, be ever in his view, owned and acknowledged by him, and protected by the arm of his power. Her reasons follow: for love [is] strong as death;
that is, the love or the church to Christ, which caused her to make the above requests: death conquers all; against it there is no standing; such was the love of the church, it surmounted all difficulties that lay in the way of enjoying Christ; nothing could separate from it; she was conquered by it herself F17; and could not live without him; a frown, an angry look from him, was as death unto her; yea, she could readily part with life and suffer death for his sake; death itself could not part her from him, or separate him from her love F18; so that her love was stronger than death; jealousy [is] cruel as the grave:
the jealousy she had of Christ's love to her which was her weakness; and yet it was very torturing and afflicting, though at the same time it showed the greatness of her love to Christ: or "envy", that is of wicked men, she was the object of, which exceeds cruel wrath and outrageous anger, ( Proverbs 27:4 ) ; or rather her "zeal" F19, which is no other than ardent love for Christ his Gospel, cause, and interest; which ate up and consumed her spirits, as the grave does what is cast into it. ( Psalms 119:139 ) . Virgil F20 gives the epithet of "cruel" to love; the coals thereof [are] coals of fire;
which expresses the fervency of her love to Christ, and zeal for the honour of his name: which, though sometimes cold and languid, is rekindled, and becomes hot and flaming; and is, like fire, insatiable, one of the four things that say, "It is not enough", ( Proverbs 30:16 ) ; [which hath] a most vehement flame;
nothing is, nor, common with other writers F21, than to attribute flame to love, and to call it a fire; here a most vehement flame. Or, "the flame of Jah" or "Jehovah" F23; an exceeding great one: the Hebrews use one or other of the names of God, as a superlative; so the mountains of God, and cedars of God, mean exceeding great ones; and here it expresses the church's love in the highest degree, in such a flame as not to be quenched, as follows: or it signifies, that the flame of love in her breast was kindled by the Lord himself F24, by his Spirit, compared to fire; or by his love, shed abroad in her heart by him, Hence it appears to be false, what is sometimes said, that the name of God is not used in this Song; since the greatest of all his names, Jab or Jehovah, is here expressed.
F16 Apud Ludolph. Lexic. Ethiopic. p. 341.
F17 "Omnia vincit amor, et nos cedamus amori", Virgil.
F18 "Nostros non rumpit funus amorea", Lucan. Pharsal. l. 5. v. 761, 762.
F19 (hanq) "zelus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Marckius.
F20 "Crudelis amor", Bucolic. Eclog. 10. v. 29.
F21 Vid. Barthii Animadv. ad Claudian. de Nutpt. Honor. v. 16. & Laude Stilico, v. 74. So love is said to kindle a more vehement flame than at Vulcan's forge, Theocrit. Idyll. 2. prope finem.
F23 (hy-tbhlv) "flamma Domini", Montauus, Mercerus; "Dei", Tigurine version, Cocceius; "Jah", Vatablus, to Marckius.
F24 So the Tigurine version, Castalio.